Southern Vermont CEDS 2020 Vital Project rankings announced

Vermont Business Magazine The 2020 project rankings for the Southern Vermont Economy CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) have been announced. A total of 59 projects were submitted to be included in the five-year plan for growing the southern Vermont economy, 12 of which have been ranked vital. The following list of Southern Vermont CEDS 2020 Vital Projects is presented in alphabetical order by project name.

The purpose of identifying Vital Projects is to publicly acknowledge the top actions the region can support that will make demonstrable progress towards our regional economic development goals, as outlined in the 2019 Southern Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

This CEDS was created in 2018 and 2019 through dozens of meetings with stakeholders, through a process led by the grassroots SeVEDS (Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies of Windham) and RED (Regional Economic Development of Bennington) Groups.

The CEDS establishes measurable goals, objectives, and a clear set of strategies. While every project submitted becomes part of the annual CEDS, projects which best demonstrate the ability to advance those goals garnered the most support.

Normally, a press event would be held at the Southern Vermont Economy Summit in Dover, Vermont in May to announce Vital Projects. Due to COVID-19, the summit, and therefore the press event, has been postponed.

The CEDS Project Ranking Committee also usually meets in person to review and rank the projects. This process was held virtually this year, but conducted otherwise in the same fashion as previous years. Due to COVID-19 projects might be stalled or need to pivot. The vital project submitters have been asked to share a statement on how their project has pivoted due to the pandemic.

CEDS Projects are submitted as significant activities which are happening around the region that can help implement the CEDS.

Projects are given priority based on their likely ability to increase our population, improve our physical infrastructure, enhance our social infrastructure, expand our business infrastructure or develop our regional economic development capacity.

These are the Vital Projects.


Project: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Impact Region: Windham Region

Submitting Organization: M&S Development

Description: The proposed $31 MM project is a mixed-use project, consisting of a 59,000 square foot expansion for the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) at the southern gateway to downtown Brattleboro. The project would revitalize brownfields and blighted buildings, and nearly triple the expected visitor foot traffic in the heart of Brattleboro’s downtown district. The museum portion of the project is a proposed multi-story building at the base of Main Street. It will contain museum galleries, a gift shop, a café with outdoor seating, and commercial units at ground level. A second floor will consist of office, classroom and program space with a focus on a children's center for materials and learning. Four floors above will include the creation of much needed new, high-quality housing units, at a mix of income levels including affordable as well as market rate.

Project: Developing New Markets & Infrastructure to Support Vermont Farmers

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: Food Connects

Description: Over the last 3 years, Food Connects (FC) has changed its business model in response to the complementary demands of producers wanting access to more markets, and customers wanting more values-based, source-identified products from a wider geographic area. In late 2019, FC upgraded its facility in Brattleboro, with a threefold increase in storage capacity, while laying the groundwork for a Third Party Food Safety Certification that is required by large institutions. The next phase of the project includes dramatically increasing sales capacity to reach new customers and markets throughout the Northeast and developing new strategic partnerships within Vermont to leverage greater impact. New doors continue to open, not only as a result of FC's efforts but also due to a shifting landscape and a new regional appetite for a viable alternative to large traditional, commodity based distribution.

Project: Leveraging the Vermont Brand

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: BDCC/SeVEDS

Description: The purpose of this project is to assist the public and private sectors in understanding how better to leverage the Vermont brand in their own efforts to recruit and retain talent, to attract entrepreneurs and investment, and to grow market share for Vermont businesses and services. This includes helping communities with their own marketing efforts, and assisting special sectors with recruitment like higher education and healthcare. Funds secured will be used implement market research on the value of the Vermont brand. This project will create new tools, data, collaboration, and strategies that can help communities and companies alike in their efforts to attract people and entrepreneurs. All data will be shared statewide to help Vermont gain market share and visibility.

Project: Pipelines & Pathways Program

Impact Region: Windham Region

Submitting Organization: BDCC/SeVEDS

Description: The Pipelines and Pathways program (P3), after two years of development and implementation, is now a fixture in the career education, preparedness, and awareness system throughout Windham County. Every high school in the county, and the regional career center, engages in P3 programming to varying degrees. The ability for the program to respond to the needs of schools in serving their students has allowed significant progress to be made at a cultural and programmatic level, and has increased staff access to students, faculty, and administrators. The work achieved to date through P3 falls into three categories: Direct Program Delivery, Resource Development, and Relationship Development and Partnership Expansion. Each of these areas are equally important to establishing a robust career education pipeline to the variety of economic opportunity accessible to Windham County students.

Project: Putnam Block Redevelopment Phase 2

Impact Region: Bennington, VT

Submitting Organization: Putnam Community Health

Description: The Putnam Block Redevelopment - Phase 2 will build upon the momentum of Phase 1 of the project now under construction. Phase 1 of the project brought together anchor institutions and community members to revitalize three, historic, iconic and mostly vacant buildings in the heart of downtown Bennington. Putnam Block Redevelopment Phase 2 will continue to add much needed vitality to the heart of the community, bringing in additional workers, patients, students and others to use office and educational spaces and providing housing for an additional thirty families in the urban core. The $24 MM project calls for remediation of a four-acre Brownfield site and construction of a new, five-story building approximately 50,000 SF in size. The building will house clinical offices for Southwestern Vermont Health Care, additional offices and possible educational uses on the second floor, three floors (30 units) of housing, and include some small retail liner spaces.

Project: Quality Youth Development Certification

Impact Region: Multiple Towns in the Windham Region

Submitting Organization: Building a Positive Community

Description: The Quality Youth Development Certification or “QYD” is a community certification process that will demonstrate the greater Brattleboro community is actively promoting youth engagement and youth empowerment – which have been proven to be essential elements necessary for youth to thrive. The greater Brattleboro community will be one of five pilot communities working toward this certification with technical support from Essex CHIPS. Achievement of the certification can then be included in marketing materials about our community as a vibrant and supportive place for young people to thrive in. The certification was developed by Essex CHIPS prevention coalition in partnership with DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services (Greenfield, MA) and the Franklin County (MA) Youth Services Roundtable.

Project: Robertson Paper Site Redevelopment

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation

Description: The former Robertson Paper Company site on Island Street in Bellows Falls recently completed extensive environmental remediation and is ready for construction. The BFADC has identified three commercial industrial tenants who need to move in order to expand, and which currently have a combined fifty employees. This project, recently cited by the EPA as "a model for how construction and demolition can be done to save money and the environment," will lead to new uses and new vitality at what had been one of the nation's largest producers of wax paper until closing in the mid-1980s.

Project: Shirenomics

Impact Region: Bennington County

Submitting Organization: Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Description: Shirenomics is a growing and ambitious vehicle for regional economic and community development professionals to help shape the narrative around southwestern Vermont, and generate public interest in ongoing developments. The target audience is people interested in the region: longtime residents, newcomers, and people who are considering a move. The project is a collaboration of Matt Harrington of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Jonathan Cooper of the Bennington County Regional Commission. Through a newsletter/e-zine, video series, and in-the-works podcast, Shirenomics provides content that can be consumed and shared across a variety of platforms, and gives its audience several ways to engage with the region. In a county that has long been defined by a "Northshire vs Southshire" mentality, Shirenomics is a welcome approach that focuses on the region's interconnectedness as a resident and workforce recruitment and retention advantage.

Project: Southern Vermont Communications Union District

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: SoVT Task Force

Description: The Southern Vermont Communication Union District (SoVT CUD) was created by twelve Bennington County towns at the ballot box on Town Meeting Day in 2020. It aims to bring broadband Internet service to under-served areas of those towns, and to provide businesses and residences throughout the county with a new option for service. The lack of broadband Internet service is a major restraint on the growth of the region's economy and its efforts to attract people and business to our region. The SoVT CUD has the funding in place to conduct a feasibility study and formulate a business plan, and will partner with an internet service provider shortly thereafter to deliver on its mission.

Project: Southern Vermont Economy Summit

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: BDCC/SeVEDS

Description: The Southern Vermont Economy Summit is a daylong learning and networking event for municipal, community and business leaders that focuses on the long-term development of Southern Vermont’s economy. We are currently in our fourth year of hosting the Summit in partnership with the Bennington County Regional Commission/Bennington County Industrial Corporation. This is truly a Southern Vermont focused event, striving to bring insight, knowledge, expertise, and connections to the community members, businesses, and organizations that serve our region.

Project: Southern Vermont Museum of Natural History Expansion

Impact Region: Southern Vermont

Submitting Organization: Southern Vermont Museum of Natural History

Description: This project acts on the recommendations of a recent assessment performed for the Southern Vermont Museum of Natural History by the Association of Nature Center Administrators. The museum has begun a strategic planning process with board members, volunteers, and community stakeholders, and retained the services of a consultant to coordinate. Some of the potential outcomes expected are recommendation for board development, building fundraising capacity, membership development, and developing a sound and doable plan for locating a potential site to build a larger facility.

Project: Village Water/Wastewater Feasibility

Impact Region: Windham Region

Submitting Organization: Windham Regional Commission

Description: The Windham Regional Commission continues to advocate for funding policy changes at the state level, and specifically with and through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Department of Environmental Conservation. The understanding of the need for community water and wastewater in villages as being foundational to compact settlement development, housing development, economic development, land conservation and human health has increased substantially across elected and appointed officials. The stake that Vermont, and the Windham Region, has in wastewater and water infrastructure has never been more clear.

All CEDS Projects submitted have been reviewed for inclusion in the Southern Vermont CEDS. Every project submitted is included in the CEDS. All other projects submitted for inclusion in the Southern Vermont CEDS are listed below.

2020 Southern Vermont CEDS Projects (in alphabetical order by project name)

· 219 Pleasant Street: Hale Resources

· Area Wide Plan: Town of Rockingham

· Bellows Falls Opera House Lower Theater: Town of Rockingham

· Bellows Falls Vacuum Coating Training Center: Sustainable Valley Group

· Bennington Area Makers (BAM): Bennington Area Makers (BAM)

· Bennington Rental Rehab: NeighborWorks of Western Vermont

· BF Historic Train Station purchase and renovation: Town of Rockingham

· Black Rock FC / Applejack Stadium Improvements: Town of Manchester, VT

· Bridge to Brattleboro: BDCC/Diverse Workforce Development Committee

· Broad Brook Community Center: Broad Brook Community Center, Inc.

· Careqd- Urgent care on phone or computer anywhere, anytime: SVMC

· Early Childhood Education Center: Community Collaborative for Guilford

· Extending Massachusetts Rail Expansion to Vermont: Windham Regional Commission

· Farm Food Innovation Center: Strolling of the Heifers

· Flood Hazard Mitigation in Jacksonville Village: Town of Whitingham

· Frank Adams Grist Mill: Town of Rockingham

· Gateways to Bennington Downtown Artist Charrette: Bennington Area Arts Council

· Green Island Project- Great Falls Food Hub: Sustainable Valley Group

· Hiring Needs Assessment: BDCC/SeVEDS

· Historical & Recreational Park of the Deerfield Valley: Living History Association, Inc.

· Island Street: Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation (BFADC)

· Knowledge Bites Webinar Series: BDCC/SeVEDS

· Main Street Manchester VT sewer expansion study: Town of Manchester, VT

· Municipalities Data Currencies Matrices: Public Liberation Unions

· Old School Community Center: Old School Enrichment Council, Inc.

· Omega Optical - OPTIC: M&S Development

· Pownal Town Office: Pownal Economic Development Committee

· Public Safety Building improvements and ADA: Village of Bellows Falls

· Retreat Farm: Retreat Farm

· Rich Earth Institute: Rich Earth Institute

· Route 9 Infrastructure Improvement: Town of Wilmington

· Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence: BDCC/SeVEDS

· SoVermont Workforce Recruitment Upgrade: Bennington County Regional Commission

· SoVT Connectivity Summit/Breakfast: BDCC/SeVEDS

· STEMcorps: Vermont STEMcorps LLC

· Targeted Expertise Recruitment and Retention: BDCC/SeVEDS

· Timber Frame Workshop & New Pizza Pavilion: West River Community Project

· TLR Master Plan: Sustainable Valley Group

· Trails and Outdoor Recreation: Town of Rockingham

· Universal Broadband for Marlboro: Marlboro Committee for Universal Broadband (MCUB)

· Vernon Center -A new 21st-century New England village: Friends of Vernon Center

· Vilas Bridge: Town of Rockingham

· Water Supply: Town of Rockingham

· Whitingham Sewer Infrastructure: Town of Whitingham

· Wilmington Fiber WiFi Project: Wilmington Works

· Winston Prouty Campus Development: Winston Prouty Center

· Working Communities of Southern Vermont: BDCC/SeVEDS

CEDS Project Ranking Committee: A project selection committee comprised of a small group of individuals that represent the region and are firmly established in their field of expertise were chosen by SeVEDS and RED to review, score and rank the 59 project submissions. This committee was made up of: Gary Fox, Town of Rockingham; Melissa Trainor, SIT; James Salerno, Hale Mountain Research; Kelly Clarke, Centerline Architects; Elisabeth Marx, Vermont Community Foundation; John Burnham, Kimpton Taconic; Jim Martinez, Tri State Area Federal Credit Union; Shannon McLenithan, The Bank of Bennington; Gordon Black, Town of Manchester; Ed Metcalf, Vermont Distillers; CJ King, Grace Cottage; and Sharon Crossman, Town of Londonderry.

The 2019 Southern Vermont CEDS is the five year federally recognized regional economic development plan which the public and private sectors collaborated to create. A CEDS must be the result of an ongoing economic development planning process, developed with broad-based and diverse public and private sector participation, and must include a section listing all suggested projects. A CEDS also contains a section identifying and prioritizing vital projects, programs and activities that address the region’s greatest needs or that will best enhance the region’s competitiveness. Progress on all the goals and projects will be updated annually. The 2019 Southern Vermont CEDS can be found here: BDCC and BCRC are the lead regional agencies for the 2019 Southern Vermont CEDS, and the region’s standing CEDS Committee consists of members of the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies and Regional Economic Development Working Group (see below)

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont, including Windham County and the towns of Readsboro, Searsburg, Winhall and Weston. BDCC serves as the State of Vermont’s certified Regional Development Corporation (RDC) for the greater Windham County area. BDCC is one of 12 RDCs throughout Vermont. This BDCC activity was made possible in part by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. For more information visit:

The Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC) was created by the seventeen towns and villages it serves and works on behalf of those municipalities to build strong, resilient and sustainable communities, to foster economic prosperity, and to promote a high quality of life for residents of the region. For more information visit

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) is an affiliate of BDCC that grew from a 2008 grassroots effort, initiated by BDCC, to understand and create long term strategies needed to reverse the economic decline of the Windham Region and plan for the economic impacts from the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In 2014, after multiple years of regional input, education and data gathering, SeVEDS received federal approval for the Windham Region’s federally recognized S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). SeVEDS partnered with Bennington’s Regional Economic Development Group in 2018 to develop the 2019 Southern Vermont Zone CEDS. For more information visit:

The Regional Economic Development Working Group (RED Group) is a volunteer body committed to increasing the shared prosperity and quality of life for the seventeen municipalities in southwestern Vermont. The group has a diverse membership that reflects the varied community, business, workforce, and demographic characteristics of the region. The RED Group focuses on the internal and external economic development issues that affect the Bennington County region as a whole; the regional implications of local economic development issues; the process of regional economic development from local, state, and federal perspectives; and options for future initiatives.

Source: Southern Vermont, June 3, 2020 — Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation